My first ever fic so please excuse any medical inaccuracies. I need to say thanks to the peeps who have supported me in my endeavour...you know who you are!

I don't own the characters, I just took then out of the box to play for a bit.

Its whumpy, you've been warned


Ever The Hero

'Of course Sheppard would take point' thought Rodney, 'Ever the protector, ever the hero', he grumbled to himself as he followed Ronon towards the gap in the trees, cursing as the branch that the Satedan had just passed whipped back and struck his face.

''Thank you...scientist with delicate scientific equipment behind you!! ''Rodney hissed trying to keep as low a profile as possible and wiping green streaks down his face. He hadn't wanted to come on this mission to start with, considering it a waste of his valuable time...time that could have been spent with Radek, studying the latest test results from the equipment, as yet unidentified, from one of the labs discovered in a previously flooded section of the city…..so his mood was not the best. Radek would be gloating….he could see it now….the latest discoveries and he, leader of the research department, not there to take the credit, but stuck here in…… trees searching for….natives!

''Could you be more caref...", he started to whisper loudly, but his speech was cut off as a sound reverberated through the trees, a sound that chilled him to the bone.

The cry of anguish split the air like a blade and immediately had the team dropping into a well rehearsed crouch, weapons drawn…...waiting. The cry was followed by a series of choking gasps, as if whoever had uttered them was trying to shout but was unable. The sound struck an unwelcome cord with Rodney, it was eerily familiar, and his mind flashed back to a jumper journey that had gone to hell in a hand basket and Sheppard lying on his back screaming in agony with a bug attached to his neck.

They ran through a small gap between the trees where Sheppard had walked just seconds before them and stopped dead. Where before had been a small, quiet glade surrounded by lush greenery, there was now a scene of utter desperation.

Lying on the ground was the Colonel...his hands grasping at the dry leaves and earth at his sides, desperately trying to move but unable as his leg was trapped between the jaws of a huge trap, one bearing a strong resemblance to the bear traps that were used in the forests back on Earth. His back arched off the ground as he strained to free himself, and another cry of anguish escaped his lips.

"no-no-n-no…..." Rodney's voice faltered and the staccato died in his throat as they approached their fallen comrade.

Sheppard's nails were digging gouges in the earth as he struggled with the pain and his head thrashed from side to side as low moans escaped from his lips. He tried to lift his body from the ground, tears of frustration and pain escaping from his eyes as he found himself unable and collapsed back to the damp earth. Teyla reached his side first and as she looked down to his leg, her hand went to her mouth in horror and she couldn't help the strangled gasp that escaped her lips as she saw the extent of the damage.

The jaws of the trap had closed just below the Colonels knee, but the force behind them had pushed the metal deep into the flesh and had only stopped upon contact with the bones below which, judging from the strange angle at which the leg lay, had been smashed by the impact. The trap itself was red with rust and covered inlayers of moss, it had obviously lain where is was, undiscovered, for a very long time, maybe even years, before being sprung by the weight of the body passing overhead. It was attached by a thick chain, again covered in moss and rust which disappeared into the ground….. ground that was changing colour rapidly from a healthy earthy green to a very unnatural blood red.

Ronon was the first to react and shouting in anguish he ran over to his stricken friend. He stooped over the jaws of the trap, reached out and grabbed them to pull them apart, but his hands couldn't find purchase on the metal and they came away slick with blood. Sheppard looked up at him with desperation on his face,

"Ronon…get it off me…god help me…break it off…AAAARGGH!!

"Ronon…NO!……..don't", Teyla's voice rang out, fraught with tension, "if we remove the trap now he will bleed to death, we must leave it in place...it will not help the Colonel to remove it now… we must prevent more blood from escaping first, by applying a strap…..I think Carson calls it a tourniquet... to the colonels leg"

"Yes….yes, Teyla is right…..use your belt….yes….take it off and…..and….put it around his leg at the very top ….that's it…there….pull it TIGHT"

Another cry escaped from Sheppard's lips as the strap was tightened and the beads of sweat that had appeared on his face now ran down over the taught muscles in his neck and hit the ground. The strap around his thigh was digging into the fabric, but fresh blood still welled from around the jaws of the trap. Teyla knelt beside her friend on the ground and touched his shoulder.

"John...the tourniquet is not tight enough, we must pull it tighter again…..are you ready?"

Sheppard looked up into her eyes and gave a small nod, then closed his eyes in readiness.

"Ronon….." Teyla turned to the tall Satedan next to her and nodded her head.

Rodney looked away as the strap was pulled in tighter around Sheppard's thigh and he winced as the Colonel struggled to prevent himself from crying out, biting his lip until blood welled and digging broken nails into already scratched and dirty palms. Ronon looked down at the blood on his hands, unsure what to do…..it felt so wrong to just wipe the blood away…Sheppard's blood. For the first time in his life he felt unsure of himself, he felt useless.

"John...I am so sorry..."Teyla found her voice breaking as she spoke," it is the only way to stop more blood from being lost from your leg…I know it hurts you…I-I am sorry". She looked at her team mates and saw shock written in their expressions, horror at the pain being inflicted on someone they had grown to look at as not just a colleague…but a close friend and someone who they all knew would willingly put his life on the line for any one of them. She felt the same, but she was well aware that if they were to stand any chance of saving the colonels life they were going to have to work quickly.

Teyla turned to Ronon and, laying her hand on his arm drew him off, away from earshot.

"Ronon, you must return to where we left the Jumper, we will need the medical supplies that are on board…. take Rodney with you, as we will need to contact Atlantis, to let them know of the Colonels condition...Elizabeth needs to be informed…she will know what to do…trust her advise….. we will also need cutters of some sort if we are to attempt to... free... Colonel Sheppard's leg"

"That's gonna take time Teyla are you sure you want to ...you know..."

"We need these things Ronon, and please hurry...we need to get him back to the jumper as quickly as possible…."

Teyla turned around and walked back to Sheppard's side. She knelt down beside him and touched the side of his face.

"John can you hear me...it is Teyla...John?"

Sheppard opened his eyes and looked up at her. He struggled to sit up but was beaten back by an excruciating pain that shot up his leg and exploded in his brain. He collapsed back to the ground again, dizzy, his vision blurred and he thought he was going to throw up. He swallowed down the bile that had risen to hit the back of his throat and tried to regain control.

"S-s-still here...how are we... d-doing" his voice weak and shaking, he struggled again to lift himself up, but thought twice of it, hissing in pain as his leg pulled.

"Ronon and Rodney are to return to the Jumper to retrieve some supplies and to contact Atlantis...you need to keep as still as possible" she looked down at his leg and couldn't help swallowing hard," I am going to wrap your wound to try to stem the bleeding, but you must try to stay still...I will be as gentle as I can...I am sorry"

"Hey….n-nothing for you to be sorry a-about…..I was the one who didn't look for the big red ...b-bear trap. …….s-signs…..AAAARGH!!", he had twisted his body slightly as he spoke and the trap had moved.

"John... John !!!!!!!!!

He was losing control.His normally stoic exterior had crumbled, the pain that had been eating away at him, finally winning out. His hands were clawing at his leg, trying to release the strap around his thigh….trying to find relief from the abominable agony coursing through his body...failing. He was cold…..his body shaking...he could feel his strength draining from his body along with the blood that he knew had soaked into the cold ground….he felt weak and light headed...his hearing was buzzing, the sounds around him becoming undefined. He could no longer understand what was being said, the words were blurring together...he felt the fight was being lost….too quickly…his vision started to gray at the edges and then he spiralled into darkness.

"John...can you hear me" Teyla touched his shoulder desperate for a response, but he had drifted in to unconsciousness.

"Is he..."

"No.. Rodney… he has... passed out, I believe the pain has become too much for him..."

"This is so not good…...in so many ways...he needs Beckett, we need to do something...we..."

"Rodney….please calm down...the wound has to be cleaned and covered...I will do this, you must go with Ronon back to the jumper….John needs the medical supplies there and he needs Carson...I will be fine until you return and….John ..will….be fine." Teyla heard the doubt in her own words even as she spoke them but for Rodney's sake she needed to be positive. She turned and knelt down and then carefully, so as not to move his body too much, searched through the pockets of Sheppard's jacket, withdrawing the field dressings that were stored there. Rodney stood, uncertain and way out of his depth and then, as he saw what Teyla was looking for, fumbled through his own pockets and handed the dressings stored there to her. He looked at her in expectation, uncertain of what to do next, more that willing to bow to her natural leadership abilities at this point...his own confidence eroded away by the situation he found himself in.

"Rodney…...go...I can manage….you must hurry"

"OK...right….RONON...we have to go now!!!" Rodney shouted as he turned...nearly bumping into Ronon who was standing directly behind him.

"Right...come on…we need to go…"

Rodney turned and started to run back in the direction they had come and Ronon turned to follow him, then turned back and looked at Teyla, their eyes locking. He exchanging a look with her that needed no words….a look that said 'we will not be long', 'will you be OK', 'he will survive', 'be strong'…..Teyla bowed her head in understanding and gave him the briefest of nods.

"Go...but, please hurry Ronon"

Ronon dipped his head in understanding and turned away,then ran through the trees in the direction that Rodney had taken and disappeared….. Teyla was alone. She dipped her head slightly and closed her eyes, pausing to gather herself, as she knew that the task ahead of her would not be pleasant, and would require all her concentration.

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Their visit to this world had only ever been intended as an exploratory visit. They had been unsure as to the actual level of development they would encounter, as the preliminary scans taken by the MALP and those taken during a covert fly-by, had shown that although there were indeed inhabitants, no power signatures as such had been detected, indicating a pre-industrial world, but not one that could be written off as a possible trading partner, as the food situation on Atlantis could be describes as at best, lacking. The Athosians were meeting a substantial part of their basic dietary needs from the mainland sites, but new additions to their meagre supplies were always welcomed.

So a standard meet and greet mission had been agreed. Rodney, of course had grumbled at the' necessity of interrupting his valuable research time to meet a group of stone axe wielding peasants…..',whereas Ronon had jumped at the chance to get off world for a while on what was seen as a 'safe' mission, he became stir crazy when he was cooped up for too long.

They had left Atlantis earlier on in the day having prepared themselves for a simple 'meet the native inhabitants and say hi' mission and upon exiting the event horizon seconds later, Sheppard had landed the jumper at the site chosen from the scans as being safe, relatively close to the gate and well hidden from prying eyes. They had decided to come by jumper, as opposed to walking through the gate, in case their contact with the first and closest settlement had proven fruitless and had necessitated travelling further afield to other settlements. The jumper had been cloaked after landing and after scouting the perimeter to ensure their were no hidden surprises, they had left, looking forward to a leisurely walk from the jumper landing site to the settlement that they had identified from the fly-by images. They weren't expecting any trouble and so had only equipped themselves with the bare minimum for the short journey on foot, leaving the majority of the equipment on the jumper.

The journey from the jumper had not been difficult but, the terrain was rock strewn and so care had been taken to avoid any unnecessary injuries. They had travelled through a valley, where the afternoon temperature had been high enough to cause discomfort. Rodney had requested he be allowed to remove his jacket but Colonel Sheppard had been resolute and denied the request…'just in case they were caught unawares'. Rodney had grumbled from that moment on about' pointless orders' and' causing unnecessary distress to the scientific community', Ronon had then rolled his eyes and with great show had removed his great coat, thrown it over his shoulder and smirked at the disgruntled scientist. That had been the final straw for Rodney and he had spent the next ten minutes moaning constantly until Sheppard had finally had enough, turned to face him and told him to 'quit grumbling!'.

The journey had become far easier when they reached the tree line and the cooling shade created by the trees that had enveloped their bodies was welcomed by them all, even Ronon who once again had shrugged on his long coat as they had stepped deeper into the forest. Sheppard had insisted on taking point as normal, followed by Teyla and Rodney, with Ronon taking up the rear, a well rehearsed formation, designed to ensure that Rodney was always between two more experienced team members, a pattern that helped to ensure the fretful scientist was protected in the event of an attack. Rodney was used to walking in this formation, but had never questioned why. Travelling through the heavily forested area had proven easier going than the rocky valley bottom and they had been making good time through the trees when Sheppard had put his hand in the air to stop them in their tracks. Weather he had heard something ahead that alarmed him, or seen something that he was unsure about, he had signalled them to stop and had passed through a gap in the dense trees ahead alone. Ronon had moved to the front of the formation and after pausing briefly, had started to move forward through the trees……..

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Teyla shivered, the air under the shade of the trees was several degrees cooler than the warmth of the sunshine they had experienced during the journey from the jumper. It had not been a long journey but Teyla remembered it had been……difficult, Rodney had grumbled constantly and in the end most of the walk had been conducted in silence. A soft moan drew Teyla's attention back to John, his face looked ashen in the subdued light of the tree canopy and she could see that his body was shaking, so she quickly removed her jacket and leaning over, gently placed it over his torso being careful not to touch his leg.

Teyla had seen many types of injury during her time in her own settlement, her people were hunters themselves and accidents had happened many times in the course of their travels searching for food, but this was different, this was her friend lying on the ground and to see him suffering cut her to the core. She looked at the bundle of field dressings in her hand and mentally prayed for the strength to do what had to be done.

"John, I need to dress your wound...I will be as careful as I can…..John?"

There was no response from the Colonel and for that Teyla was grateful as she knelt down next to his leg.

Teyla had been attentive during the first aid lessons that Carson had insisted they all attend, she had also been interested enough to seek him out after the first training session to ask for additional tutorage. Carson had been surprised at her interest, but had agreed readily to give her additional time when he could, to learn the basics of triage and emergency procedures, after all, it could never hurt to have an additional person around capable of helping out during an emergency. It had been during one of those training sessions that Teyla had learnt to recognise the symptoms of shock and during another that she was taught how to dealt with wounds and how to apply pressure to wounds, preventing blood loss……she was grateful now that she had taken notice during these sessions and listened to Carson's advise.

The strap around the top of John's thigh she knew, had the same effect as applying direct pressure to the wound which, in this case had been impossible due to the positioning of the metal jaws encasing his leg. Teyla knew that she would have to release the strapping periodically, otherwise it would start to compromise the blood flow in John's leg and cause a different set of problems, but for the moment her priority was to try to clean the rusty debris and moss from the horrific wound below his knee.

She fetched the water bottle that Rodney had left before disappearing with Ronon and reaching out with trembling hands she leant towards the area of the wound. The cloth of John's BDU's had split under the pressure from the trap and the metal jaws that were now deeply imbedded in the skin and muscle tissue had carried pieces of the cloth deeply into the wound. Teyla couldn't help thinking how long it must have taken for the animal that this horrific trap was designed for to die having been caught …….her people had never used this type of equipment during their hunting expeditions as they were considered far too cruel, leaving the animal to suffer extraordinary amounts of agony before dying. Teyla tentatively touched the shredded fabric above the wound, expecting John to cry out, but his face remained impassive, so she continued. The fabric that had been pushed into the wound itself Teyla knew she would be unable to remove, as it was below the metal teeth and far to deeply embedded, so she made a decision to ignore it, her priority being to clean away the surface dirt and the metal debris that had flaked away from the rusting mechanism. She opened the water bottle and gently poured water around the wound itself, being careful not to jostle his leg and the obviously broken bones.

"John…I am unsure weather you can hear me, but I am having to clean your leg to remove the dirt, then I will cover it…….John, can you hear me?"

Again there was no response from him to her voice, but speaking to him helped her to carry on and she hoped that unconsciously the sound of her voice would ease him as she worked. Teyla knew that there was nothing she could do about the blood loss that John was suffering from until Rodney and Ronon returned from the jumper with medical supplies or with back up from Atlantis, but she could at least cover the wound and that was her next priority. The dressings were not big enough to cover the entire area, but she managed to wrap the bandages loosely around the wound providing at least a modicum of coverage.

A shudder passing through John's body stopped Teyla from progressing any further in her ministrations and when she looked up, her gaze was caught by a pair of pain filled hazel eyes.

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John could normally handle pain...the everyday sort……sprains, bruises, injuries afflicted during his regular sparring sessions with Teyla, but this was entirely different...this was on a level that he had never experienced before and he was struggling to cope. He knew he had a high pain threshold, one that could normally see him through, but the agony travelling up his body from his leg was threatening to overwhelm his senses and it terrified him. He was trembling uncontrollably, he felt ice cold...yet he could feel the sweat dripping off his face and body, soaking through his shirt and cooling against his body almost instantly. Nausea threatened with every move he made, his head felt dizzy and his vision was blurring ……he felt unable to cope and as he looked at Teyla, he saw fear register in her eyes as she glanced briefly down to his wounded leg and then back to his face.

"You must lie still John……the others will return soon and we will be able to give you something for the pain", she was trying hard to sound confident and reassuring but he could sense the desperation in her voice, her normal strength replaced with something different, something that he had never heard before.

"I….need to know…..T-Teyla…." his voice was small and weak. "I n-need to know about m-my…leg…its……..important….I… n-n-need to know…. how b-bad it is!". He knew he sounded desperate, but there was a growing fear in his mind…..a fear that he had never had to deal with before……he had suddenly thought about his ability to fly.….the passion in his life…….God…if he lost his leg…...his life would never be the same…he swallowed hard and looked straight at her.

"Teyla ….. please… aahh……you have to t-t-tell…. m-me!"

Teyla was shocked at the weakness and desperation in his voice, something she had never seen before. Even during the incident with the bug, he had always remained strong and in control, even to the point of choosing to have his own heart stopped to enable them to remove the bug from his neck. She took a breath and tried to instil calmness and reassurance into her voice.

"John, please calm yourself, your leg has suffered a deep wound, but I have cleansed it as much as I can for now and it is covered with a dressing. The bones of your leg have been broken by the trap…we will need to splint them if we can before we travel back to the jumper...I have done all I can for the time being….be strong John…..I am here with you, you are not alone"

Teyla leant forward and, stroked to the side, a stray hair that had become plastered to his forehead, his normal shock of dark hair now lying unnaturally limp and soaked with sweat. She felt trembling beneath her touch, weather from cold or shock she wasn't sure, but his body shook as her hand made contact with his skin.….. skin that felt far too cold and clammy. Her fingers drifted down to the side of his neck brushing against a film of sweat, as she felt for his pulse…..it was racing, but felt so weak. She gently placed her hands either side of his face and lowered her head down towards him so that there was the briefest contact between them, silently offering an Athosian prayer that her strength could be passed to him, if she could take away his suffering just for a moment she would do anything.

"Be strong John….we will be home soon". The words came out with confidence, but in her heart she could feel doubt starting to gather and she prayed that Ronon and Rodney arrived back in time.

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When they arrived back at the jumper, Rodney activated the remote cloak and they ran inside, both desperate to gather the supplies that they needed.

"Ronon…put everything that we need in that bag…yes….yes…that one…and yes...all of it, we aren't going to know what we need until we get back" Rodney turned and headed for the cockpit and sat in the pilots chair……it felt odd…. not right, for him to be seated in the 'flyboy's' seat and he momentarily paused, until the urgency of their situation overtook him and he hit the symbols to activate the gate. The event horizon appeared in the distance like a whirlpool of blue water rushing outwards and seeing that he was connected, Rodney touched the symbol that would activate the communications system. He waited a few seconds, glancing back into the rear of the jumper where Ronon was packing medical supplies into a large carry bag.

"Atlantis, this is jumper one...do you copy?" There was a pause, and unable to contain his panic, Rodney's impatience grew irrationally.

"Atlantis base, this is jumper one…please respond!!!!"

"Jumper one, this is Atlantis b……"

"Yes, Yes…. This is McKay, get me Elizabeth, I need to speak to her NOW!!!"……Rodney was in no mood for delays or small talk, he was starting to panic and he needed to speak to Elizabeth…he needed to share the burden of worry that was overwhelming him. There was a slight pause and then he heard the voice of Atlantis's leader.

"Rodney, its Elizabeth what's going on, you weren't due to check in for four more hours?"

" Elizabeth?...thank god, there's been an accident ……..Sheppard has been caught in some sort of…of…alien bear trap…it's not good…". There was a pause as Elizabeth absorbed what she had been told, then…

" Rodney….it's OK…….calm down and tell me what happened" she turned away for a second and spoke to Chuck.. "get Beckett down here…"

Rodney swallowed and continued,

"We were walking through a wooded area when Sheppard ……God, why is it always him, 'Captain Invincible'……… he……um….he stepped in this massive trap, it looked like a bear trap…..Elizabeth its bad, his leg…."

"Calm down Rodney…I need to understand the situation and I can't do that if you don't slow down. Where were you when this happened?

" Elizabeth, the longer we wait, the better his chances of bleeding to death… you didn't see it."

"RODNEY!...I know you are worried, but I need the facts."

"What…oh….the location...yes...yes…well, we put down quite close to the gate and Sheppard……uh ……..Sheppard decided that we should head towards the forested area that we had seen from the air, the one with the rudimentary settlement on the other side. We had only been walking through the trees for a short time when Sheppard heard….or-or saw something that spooked him…he went ahead…...why does he DO that!…..we followed behind him and ..we heard him…um…uh"

"OK Rodney, it's OK….hold on….Carson…yes, it's Rodney…..Rodney, can you update Carson with Colonel Sheppard's condition please"

" Beckett?"

" Ok now Rodney...can you fill in the gaps for me please, I need to know the extent of Colonel Sheppard's injury…..what exactly happened?"

" As I just told Elizabeth…….he stepped in a…a…..what looked like a bear trap….big…metal jaws….. and his leg….it was caught…it….it…looks terrible ….its……damn it Carson I don't know if even your bag of voodoo tricks is going to be good enough…."

" Calm down son, what have you done so far then?"

" Well Teyla has…um….applied a tourniquet, he was losing so much b-blood…….so much….but that's all… I don't know, we had to leave….Look we have to go back…we have to go get him and bring him back!"

" Can you not get the jumper closer to where he is?"

" No …the…uh…the terrain is too rocky and he is in the trees"

" OK Rodney hold on…give me five minutes to assemble a team…where are you now then?

"Uh…we're…we're situated…uh… about two hundred metres from the gate…I can see the gate from here.

"OK…..wait by the jumper….I think this is one house call that I need to make. Beckett out"

" Rodney…are you OK" Elizabeth's voice was tentative but gentle, handling Rodney was something that she had been forced to get used to, he had a tendency to descend into a state of panic fairly rapidly, but she was a diplomat and negotiator first and foremost and handing people was why she had been chosen for this expedition in the first place.

"No…of course I am not OK….but..….Sheppard is worse"

" Ok…..Rodney, we will need to disengage the gate to enable us to dial back…..stay where you are and wait for Beckett and his team…and…… Rodney…... keep me posted…. Weir out"

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The temperature in the trees was dropping quite rapidly and the light was starting to fade as Teyla sat by the side of her friend. She started to worry what sort of temperatures may be considered normal for the night times on this world and weather she would need to consider shelter.

Looking down at John and taking in the increasing shaking in his body…she came to the decision that she should gather materials from around her and make a fire to keep the chill evening at bay. As much as she hated to leave his side, she was sure that if his body temperature dropped any lower, it would make things considerably worse.

"John I am going to gather some firewood….I will not go far" she tried to inject a positive note into her voice…" there are many fallen branches near us and I believe that Rodney and Ronon will be back soon"

"Teyla…..I-I..am…sorry"

"For what!...you have nothing to apologise for…..we will be back in Atlantis soon and Carson will be able to tend to your wounds"

"T-teyla….I don't know h-how much longer I c-can hold on…."

Teyla knelt and took his hand in hers,

"You will be fine, you know that Carson is an excellent doctor and as soon as we are back in Atlantis...", she struggled to finish her sentence, "… you must stay strong...we will not have to wait long now, Rodney and Ronon will be back very soon I am sure……I will prepare a fire, the warmth will help." She released his hand and laid it gently on his chest, then stood, turned and started looking for the wood that she would need to assemble a fire. There was no shortage of timber lying around nearby and it didn't take her long to gather what she needed and to prepare and start a small fire. As the flames gathered in strength, the warmth given off started to permeated her body and she closed her eyes for a second, relishing the change in temperature.

Sitting on the cold ground, her hand closed around the firebrand that she had always used to create fire, from her very early days on her home world and her thoughts returned to the day she had first met John Sheppard. She remembered the look of surprise on his face as she had lit the torch for him during the exploration of the cave system, almost as if he had expected her people to be at a primitive level of development. She remembered their first meeting, when Colonel Sumner had almost dismissed her, and she thought how different things may have turned out if John had not been there during that initial contact…..where would she be now?...It had been John who had asked her to join them in Atlantis, she remembered how deeply touched it had made her feel. She thought back to the look on his face when she had agreed to stay and his smile that had spoken volumes. As her mind wandered, she thought of her other friends, of the relationship she had built with Elizabeth, one built out of trust and true sincerity. Elizabeth was a true leader of her people and Teyla had developed an almost immediate bond with her, one which had developed to the point where Elizabeth now trusted Teyla's advise almost completely. A smile touched Teyla's lips as she thought about Rodney, the annoying…...yet, fiercely loyal physicist. He could be the epitomy of bad grace and his sarcastic remarks were the thing of legend, but……she had seen the caring nature hidden beneath his dry wit.

It had been a difficult decision for her to leave her people, and one that she had spent time considering her choices carefully before making her decision. She knew in her heart and had never doubted since, that she had made the right choice….. Halling was a good man, wise and strong and fully capable of taking her place during her long absences. There were times when she missed her people, she sometimes missed the simplicity of their lives and the everyday normality of their home life, but fate had guided her to these people and she was content, she had found her place, found her home and she was happy.

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As she sat with her eyes closed, her mind slowly began to register a change in her surroundings, she had been so engaged with the task at hand and her reminiscences that she had failed to notice that, where there had been bird song not minutes before and the rustling of small animals in the undergrowth, now there was suddenly silence. She opened her eyes and immediately became more aware of the trees around them, how densely they were grouped together, how little she could see behind the first few feet and a feeling of apprehension began to build in her mind. She started to look around her and became suddenly very aware of how completely exposed they were in the clearing.

"T-teyla…what's wrong…." John looked around them, confusion evident in his eyes….

A branch snapped in the tree line behind Teyla and she whirled around, immediately alert, eyes searching the trees for the source of the noise….she waited…….nothing…..

"Teyla…are you OK…w-what is it?". Teyla stood still for several minutes scanning the area in the trees that she was sure the sound had originated from, but nothing materialized…she felt the tension in her shoulders start to gradually relax, then she shook her head and turned back to John.

"It was nothing John, probably just an animal in the woodland, I am just a little….jumpy, do not concern yourself". She started to lower herself down to the ground but then she glanced up at John's face, she saw his eyes grow wide with fear and he lifted his hand and pointed behind her.

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"TEYLA….look out….TEYLA", Sheppard's hand went down to his leg and, gritting his teeth against the agony, he struggled to pull the gun from its holster…his strength was failing him but the weapon finally came away in his hand and he aimed it with shaking hands over Teyla's shoulder and fired.

Teyla turned as he shouted and her breath was stolen from her as she looked at the enormous creature running across the clearing towards her. The huge creature was like nothing she had ever seen before, it resembled the grizzly bears that she had seen in movies back on Atlantis but it was so much bigger. Her hand instinctively went to her side, but then she realised that her P90 was not there….she turned to look for it and it struck her that she had removed it when she had been dressing John's leg, she had not wanted the weapon to swing forwards and touch his wound, and it now lay on the ground several metres to the side. It may as well have been one hundred miles away as the creature bore down on her. John had dropped the gun after firing the first shot, the pain threatening to send him spiralling into unconsciousness again, but he gritted his teeth and struggled to stay aware as Teyla turned and faced the creature.

John's shot had gone wide, missing the creature and hitting one of the trees behind it, but the sound had obviously frightened it and it ground to a halt. It stood still and sniffed the air, spittle dribbling from its jaws as its head wove from side to side. It was testing the air, its nose held high and it was unsure. Teyla started to back very slowly towards where she had left the P90, her eyes flicking from the creature back to John, his face contorted in pain, his breath coming in shallow gasps. She looked back at the beast and it suddenly struck her what had attracted it here…it was the blood, to a hungry carnivore, the smell from the spilt blood must have been too much to ignore, the scent of fallen and injured prey, of an easy meal.

"AAaahh !..." Teyla's eyes flicked automatically towards John as he failed to suppress a cry from breaking through his lips, and it was at that moment that the creature made a choice. With a huge roar it started to lumber across the clearing towards John, its eyes wide and its lips drawn back in a snarl. Teyla turned and dove for her gun, rolling on the ground and grabbing the stock as she did. The beast was bearing down on them both as she lifted the gun and pulled the trigger……nothing…..the gun didn't fire, the mechanism jamming. Teyla looked at the gun in outrage and crying out in despair, she threw the weapon at the approaching animal and tried to draw her own pistol but it was too late, the beast was too close to them and her time had run out. The beast was within a few metres of their position when it leapt into the air.

Teyla knew that this was the end, she had tried to protect her friend and failed, so she did the only thing left for her to do, she turned and threw herself over Johns body, determined to protect him at all costs, even if it meant sacrificing herself in the process. She covered her head with her hands and waited for the creature to strike, for its claws to connect with her back. To her it felt as if time stood still, then suddenly she heard the deafening sound of a blaster being fired and the crunch of the beast hitting the ground and sliding towards her through the dirt and leaves.

"TEYLA….Teyla…..are you OK?"……. Ronon's voice was fraught with concern and fear, but to Teyla it was the sweetest sound that she had ever heard. With shaking hands she pushed herself up, taking care not to touch John's body and her eyes lifted up and met those of the tall Satedan, his gun still outstretched in his hand.

"Ronon…I……do not know…. the words to thank you, I……do not know what to say…if you had not come…."She felt her control breaking and tears starting to well in her eyes, her hands were shaking, with fear….relief….she could feel so many emotions whirling around in her mind and she struggled to maintain her composure.

"Teyla love…..are you alright, what was that creature…..its the biggest beastie I have ever seen!", Carson's voice was like nectar to Teyla's soul, ever soothing, ever reassuring.

"Carson….it is ….very good to see you…John….John needs your help, he is ….terribly injured, his leg…" Carson ran across the glade, followed closely by a group made up of members of his medical team and six marines. They were carrying a stretcher complete with back board and various bags of medical equipment, Carson had come prepared for any situation.

" OK now then, lets see what we have…". He knelt beside Sheppard's side and took his first look at the damaged leg." Oh bloody hell son...a right mess you've made of yourself this time..".

"Carson…..is there anything I can do……to …" Teyla now felt very weak, the shock of overcoming the attack was catching up fast and she could feel her legs giving way.

"RONON….catch her man!", Carson's voice rang out as Teyla started to fall, but Ronon was there and he caught her and lowered her to sit on the ground.

" I….I am fine Ronon…it is just…"

" No need to say anything love, you just sit a wee will and get your breath whilst I take a look over the colonel here." Carson turned his attention back to Sheppard, his team now approaching with the equipment they had brought with them. The stretcher and back board were placed on the ground as close to Sheppard's body as they could without touching the wounded area and Carson started to issue orders.

" Ok ladies and gentlemen…..we have a two very deep lacerations below the colonels knee, front and rear, there appears to be substantial tissue and muscle damage and…", he palpated the skin around the wound, generating a grunt of pain from Sheppard.

".…and yes, there are fractures to both bones….we'll need to immobilize that… Gentlemen!...where's that cutting equipment, we need to cut that chain through …… we'll be leaving the metalwork where it is….I'm not going to risk removing that until we can get him into surgery…"

"Doc, will he be OK…you know…"

"I need him back in the city Ronon…there is so much debris in the wound, I would imagine there's a fair chance that we may be looking at infection setting in, so I need to get him started on a broad spectrum antibiotic but, until he's in surgery and I can get a better look…lets wait and see shall we…" Carson turned and started to bark order at his team, Ronon felt useless, he caught some of the words flying about…..'saline IV's' and 'wide bore', 'stats' and 'pain meds', but he knew that there was nothing he could do to help, so he crouched down beside Teyla and watched the team medical work on his friend.

" He's strong you know…..he.."

" I know Ronon….. he will be fine….I-I am sure.." Teyla's voice broke with emotion and she looked away, not wanting anyone to see the tears in her eyes. Ronon laid a hand on her shoulder, a careful gesture of support, but there was nothing he could say as they waited.

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With the medical team positioned on either side of his body and the chain holding the spring loaded trap to the ground cut through, Carson prepared the team to lift Sheppard slightly, allowing the back board to be slid underneath. They needed to support his leg and the attached metalwork whilst they returned to the city and the board was equipped for that situation with strapping and supports.

"Steady now…careful….are we all ready then… Ok…on one, two, three ….and LIFT". The team reacted as one, lifting Sheppard slightly and the board was positioned. The pain meds that had been introduced into the IV fluids had taken the edge off the agony from his leg, but as they lifted him, Sheppard's face turned a shade of chalky white and he struggled to rise.

"C-carson….sick…" Beckett turned John's head to the side just as he vomited on the ground. The bout of sickness was followed by a series of dry heaves and John grimaced and swallowed hard to control his rebelling stomach.

"It's Ok lad…that's the worst over…", he looked over at Rodney, who had hardly moved since they had returned from the gate. Rodney didn't handle stressful situations well, it was a well known fact and one that he readily admitted himself and he stood, wringing his hands and moving from one foot to another gently, probably totally unaware of his body's movement.

" Carson…is there nothing else you can give him….you know….something from your 'Witch doctor for Beginners' kit…to…uh…help with…that?" Carson was well used to Rodney's snarky comments, knowing that most of the time they were generated through genuine stress and concern though, not always.

"No Rodney, I'm afraid I've given him all I can right now, we need to get him back and assess him properly before I can give him anything else, the pain meds have helped…but he's shocky and that's what's brought on the nausea….." he turned back to his waiting team, "OK then people, we need to move…lets get him secured and get away from this place..", his eyes drifted over to the corpse of the animal as he spoke and he shuddered at the thought of what may have happened if they had not arrived when they did.

Rodney stood back from the medical team as they prepared Sheppard for the journey back to the jumper. He looked around at the marines who had accompanied Beckett's team, all standing waiting to move…. like coiled springs, guns poised in case there were any further….. intruders to deal with. Rodney's thoughts returned to the point when they had entered the clearing, to see the bear running at full pelt towards Teyla. He remembered trying to bring his own weapon up to fire and then how quickly Ronon had reacted, his gun firing before Rodney's was even up at his waist. He shuddered at the thought and even though he would probably never tell…'Conan'… to his face, he was incredibly grateful for the man's reflexes, ones that had been honed by many years on the run from the wraith.

Rodney was well aware of his failings in the 'social skills' department, he remembered that after he had first arrived on the base he had, although he was totally unaware at the time, unwittingly ticked off almost every person around him with his snarky sarcasm and dry humour. His attitude had not ingratiated him with the other members of the scientific community and he had found himself with few friends. There had been colleagues that had respected his work and his research capabilities, but that was as far as it went and there were certainly none at the time that called him friend. Being placed with Sheppard's team had been a shock to his ego. He had found himself amongst people who not only tolerated his mannerisms but openly baited him to bring them on. At first he was unsure how to deal with this sort of reaction, he had always used his persona to keep people at arms length, not feeling comfortable lowering his defences, something that life experience had taught him, it was his own, personal protection mechanism. To his real surprise it had been Sheppard, the flyboy, who had been the main protagonist in the 'Rodney baiting', but to his even greater surprise he had found himself enjoying the encounters and even looking forward to their vocal battles, constructing more elaborate snipes at the military man, and their good natured squabbles had developed from tolerance to friendship.

Rodney was still standing in the same place when the marines lifted the stretcher and started to move off through the trees, with the medical team walking beside where gaps in the trees made it possible, holding bags of fluid up as necessary and with Beckett fussing like a mother hen.

"Steady now…keep him level please…lets get him back to the jumper as quickly and as gently as possible," he looked back at Rodney who was standing alone and gently called to him, "Rodney, are you coming?". Rodney looked up and, realising they were moving off, jogged over and joined the back of the group. Ronon, who had waited until everyone had moved off then turned, and taking one final look at the carcase lying by the makeshift fire, shook his head and turned way, taking up the rear guard position for the walk back.

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The trek back to the jumper passed fairly uneventfully, they had been forced to stop on several occasions to adjust straps or to change out IV's, but generally they made good speed and arrived back at the craft as the light was disappearing. After settling the colonel on one of the benches and strapping the board down, the marines left to walk the short distance to the gate, leaving the rest of the team to settle themselves into whatever space they could find for the short journey back through the gate, none of them wanting to be separated from Sheppard for long. When the jumper materialized on the other side of the gate, there was a trauma team waiting for them to disembark and the board holding the colonel was lifted straight onto a gurney for the trip to the infirmary. As the gurney disappeared around the corner, the rest of the team looked at each other. Teyla's jacket was clad in leaf mould where she had thrown herself to the ground and her face streaked with dirt. Ronon looked worried, his eyes following the gurney as it disappeared, obviously wanting to follow but aware that they should wait to speak to Elizabeth. Rodney also was keen to follow the disappearing crowd as they ran to the infirmary, but was as aware as Ronon that Elizabeth would want an update before they left.

"Teyla, are you alright…do you need to be seen by a doctor?" Elizabeth spoke softly as she approached the group, she knew that they had all been through a terrible ordeal in one way or another and needed to be handled carefully. "I received an update from Carson before you came through, it was he that requested the trauma team be here to meet you at the gate….what was the creature that attacked you?"

"It was a huge bear with enormous teeth and claws…… can we go now! ...", Rodney's voice dripped sarcasm, "as you can see we are all present and accounted for Elizabeth, but we really need to find out how Sheppard is, its important……"

"OK….go…I understand your concern, I am just as worried for John, but please get yourselves checked out as well, especially you Teyla, I know it has been very hard for you….I'll meet you in the infirmary as soon as I can". Rodney turned and hurried down the corridor, closely followed by Teyla and Ronon. Elizabeth watched them go, then made her way up to her office, she needed a few minutes to compose her thoughts before she made her way there to join them. She had been worried sick from the moment that she had heard Rodney's voice over the com system, but her years of negotiating had trained her to hide her feelings well and always keep a certain amount back. She was the expedition leader and people looked to her for calm in all situations. Beneath her exterior though, she was anything but calm. The military leader of Atlantis and her friend, was gravely injured and she felt the turmoil of emotions bubbling below the surface of her calm fascade. Taking a deep breath, she rose from her seat, descended the stairs and started to make her way to the infirmary.

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As Rodney approached the doors to the infirmary, he could hear the raised voices emanating from within. He felt reluctant to push the doors open, somehow afraid of the sight that would greet him, but his concern for his friend outweighed his caution and he pushed into the room with Teyla and Ronon following closely behind him.

Carson was standing at the centre of his team, his attention focused totally on his patient.

"OK…it looked as if we definitely have a tib fib fracture, we've got exposed bone here…and …here…..let's get him prepped for surgery……I need to get that ….monstrosity off his leg so that we can assess the underlying damage….quickly now then, off you go!" Carson turned and saw the three team mates standing on the sidelines looking lost, concern etched into their features, and his face softened briefly. He left Sheppard's side and as the gurney was wheeled towards the surgical suite, Carson walked over to the group.

"We're taking him into surgery right now, it's best to get him under so we can get a better look at what's going on with his leg. There are certainly fractures to both lower leg bones which I suspect will need pinning but, obviously I'll know more when we open it up. It's going to be a wee while until I know any more so, I think it would be best if you all wait outside," he could see Rodney poised to argue, " don't worry.…I'll send one of the nurses to come find you when…if, there's any news…..now then, Teyla love, you need to get those scratches looked at….." Carson turned and called one of the nurses over, "Annie, could you take care of this for me, Teyla has a few wee scratches on her arms that need cleaning….I would hate for those to turn nasty now…..OK….you two, outside please…you can wait for Teyla there", and with that Carson turned and walked quickly in the direction that the gurney had taken.

Teyla was directed towards a nearby bed by Annie, the nurse that Carson had introduced to her and she sat. She did not recognise the nurse by sight, but believed that she had arrived on the Daedalus during its last supply run to the city a couple of months ago, so was relatively new to Atlantis.

"I…. had not realised that my arm was injured" Teyla said as she sat on the bed. " It must have happened when the …creature attacked us!". The nurse looked at Teyla with compassion etched on her face, she had not been in the city long, but the stories that she had heard about the exploits of this team had left her amazed. She knew when she had accepted this assignment that it would be….different, compared to anything she had experienced before and having to sign a non-disclosure agreement had been…..interesting. She also knew, from chatting with other members of the medical staff that the members of this crack team were rumoured to be close and the bond that had developed between them was very special.

"If it's Ok I will need to clean those out before I dress them, OK?" the nurse waited for a reply to her question, but Teyla's eyes were fixed firmly on the door to the surgical unit.

" I am sure he will be alright, Doctor Beckett is a incredibly experienced doctor and we have the best surgeons available…….Miss Emmagen?. The nurse waited and Teyla finally realised that it was she who was being addressed.

" I am so sorry…what did you say?"

" He is in the best of hands in there….." Annie felt embarrassed and could feel her face flushing at her sudden familiarity. " I apologise…I……" she was flustered and lowered her eyes to the floor.

"There is nothing to apologise for….my mind is……elsewhere at the moment, and it should be me apologising to you…..what did you need to know?" Teyla looked at Annie and gave her a sad smile.

"With your permission I need to clean your arm before dressing it…..there is quite a lot of dirt in the scratches."

Teyla's eyes took on a faraway look as she answered, "Yes…… the ground was stony when I….. landed…"

"Ok then I'll get those cleaned and covered." Teyla nodded and sat still until the nurse returned with the dressings. The process was completed quickly, for which Teyla was grateful as she felt the need to be with her colleagues. With her arm dressed, Teyla jumped down from the bed and headed for the door. As she opened the door, she nearly walked into Elizabeth who was heading in the opposite direction, Elizabeth took in the bandage on Teyla's arm and looked up in concern

" Teyla, are you OK…I hadn't realised you were injured?"

" I am fine Elizabeth…they are only scratches but Doctor Beckett thought it prudent to have them cleaned and covered." Elizabeth nodded, then looked over Teyla's shoulder towards the infirmary.

" They have taken him into surgery…...Doctor Beckett has assured us that he will send word of Colonel Sheppard's condition as soon as he is able….he has requested that we wait…outside until then." Elizabeth nodded and turned back in the direction she had come, Teyla followed her through the door.

Rodney was on his feet as soon as Teyla appeared with Elizabeth, he had been unable to keep still and their appearance added to his state of agitation.

"Did Beckett said anything else…….or has he left us with nothing….as usual!" Elizabeth stared at him in amazement,

" Rodney…he cannot be in two places at once and you really need to calm down…it is going to be a long wait for all of us"

" Yes, yes…I know….sorry…….I….its hard not…. knowing anything…..he was a mess Elizabeth…and God knows what sort of bacteria he's probably got multiplying in him at the moment!!!"

" I am sure Carson will do everything that he can for him…" she looked at the faces around her, "…..he is in the very best place, now we can only wait".

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Ronon hadn't needed anyone in his life for a very long time. After the attack that had lead to the loss of his woman and the start of his time as a runner, his life had changed forever, his emotions had become tucked deep down inside him out of reach. In his experience, if he didn't feel, he didn't get hurt and he wouldn't need to rely on anyone again. His years on the run had honed his defensive mechanism; he had become a loner, only coming into contact with people out of necessity, he felt that his life was too dangerous and his enemies too many. He would have been lying if he had said that he had not missed human company at times, but his life in general was too treacherous and nomadic to include anybody else.

When Sheppard and his team had crossed his path, at first he had felt the same as with any other enemy….they were to be avoided, or gotten rid of at any cost. He had captured them without difficulty, they had been easy targets, especially McKay……He had treated them with contempt at first, as he would any pursuer, but as he listened to their conversation and experienced their uncompromising generosity, something had happened….he had felt himself warming to their company, he had seen the camaraderie that existed between them and it had triggered a memory that had lay dormant for too many years. They had treated him like a human being, with compassion and it had reminded him of the friendships that he had left behind, before his life on the run.

His decision to join them had not been an easy one, but Sheppard was a hard man to say no to. He could talk you into making a decision before you knew he had asked you a question and all with a smile on his face, he was a good man…..and a good friend, something that Ronon had missed since his days in the military. He enjoyed their sessions in the training room, they sparred frequently and he normally ended up kicking Sheppard's butt and their runs, although normally carried out in good natured silence, had become part of his daily routine.

All of these thoughts were going through Ronon's mind as he sat in the corner of the room, with his long legs up on the opposite chair, arms crossed and head bowed. He was a man of few words and a deceptively lazy style, whereas Rodney on the other hand, had not been able to keep still, pacing between the chairs and snapping his fingers repetitively. After several hours of pacing and much to the relief of the others, he had finally asked for his laptop to be brought down to him from the labs, to assess the test results that Radek had obtained whilst they had been off world. He had immediately proceeded to snap at the technician who had walked into the room with the equipment, a man who looked as if he must have drawn the short straw for the task. Elizabeth had come to the poor mans defence and he had withdrawn from the room, obviously thankful to be leaving.

"Incompetent idiot…..look at this, there are coffee stains on my laptop……COFFEE….can you believe it…..honestly…DID YOU EAT YOUR LUNCH OFF IT!!!!!!" he called after the man as he disappeared round the corner.

"Rodney, there is no need to……."

"Actually Elizabeth, if nothing was said,I'm fairly sure that the whole science department would disintegrate around us…..God….one day….just one day I'm away and look what happens"

Teyla tried to calm the situation,"I am sure that it has not damaged your…..laptop Rodney….there was no harm intended."

"That is so not the point…… the idiot should have known bet…..". His outburst was cut short as the doors to the infirmary opened and Beckett walked through.

The silence in the room was palpable as Carson approached them, each of them needing the answer to the only question that really mattered to them at present. Elizabeth was the first to put words to their thoughts,

"Carson….how is he?"

Beckett looked around at the people in the room and smiled briefly before beginning.

"Well…if I'm honest, he's bloody lucky to still have his leg……" he held up his hand at the shocked expressions that greeted his words, "it was bad, there was a tremendous amount of damage to the muscle tissue and both the tibia and fibula were snapped through completely but, the good news is, we have managed to pin and plate the bones….it was bloody tricky and we had a bleed to deal with as well but……."

"And the rest….the…uh…?" Rodney looked as if he was going to fall down, his face white with shock.

"The muscle damage and the severed blood vessels were difficult to repair….mainly because the tissue was…. pretty much shredded by the…the….DAMN IT!!……who USES things like that anyway, its bloody inhuman…..the suffering it causes…" Carson sat down in a chair, the strain of the last few hours of surgery finally catching up with him." We had to use bolt cutters to snap the spring and get it off his leg….Teyla lass, you did a fine job….if he had lost any more blood, I doubt if he would be with us now."

"Carson we know how you feel…about the…..methods used by the people on that world" Elizabeth sat next to him and looked around her as she spoke "and I for one will be content if we never set foot there again but, we all know that accidents like this can and unfortunately do occur and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are just very lucky to have you here for when the worst does happen."

"Carson, I removed some of the dirt and rust from John's wound when we were in the forest…but there was so much…..is there a great risk of infection? ." Teyla's face was pinched with worry, she had done her best in the situation they had found themselves in but, she knew how limited her skills had been.

"Well love, we've removed all the debris and the wound is clean….I scanned it to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and I've started him on a broad spectrum antibiotic to hopefully knock out any infection before it starts….but the honest answer is….I'm not sure, these things have a nasty habit of coming out of nowhere, but we're as prepared for it as we can be.

"Can we see him?", Teyla's voice was taut, she just needed to see that he was alright, reassurance, even if just for a moment.

"Well, we just moved him to recovery, but I suppose a moment won't hurt", Carson rose from his seat and moved back towards the doors, holding them open for the others to enter.

They walked into the recovery room in silence, each deep in their own thoughts and Carson led them to a screened off area at the end of the room.

"He's still out at the moment but as I said he came through the surgery pretty well considering, his body has been through a terrible ordeal and he needs to rest, so just a few minutes…." and Carson backed away, so that they could move closer to the bedside.

There were numerous IV's attached to his arms and more tubes snaked from below the sheet covering his torso. His face looked serene as he lay and Teyla felt herself relax slightly, she remembered the last time she had seen him, his face had been contorted in agony as he had been transferred to the gurney in the gate room. His leg was swathed in gauze dressings, the wound not visible under its covering, but there were ugly bruises starting to form on the areas that were not covered and a drainage tube led from the wound site to disappear beneath the bed. Monitors beeped cheerfully at the side of the bed, telling tales of blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, and a nasal canula fed restorative oxygen to his battered body.

"He needs to rest, you should go for a wee while….I'll let you know when he wakes…and I need to go change." It wasn't until Carson had mentioned the fact that they took in the state of his surgical gown. It was splattered with blood, obviously caused by the bleed that he had mentioned and they could understand that he would want to get out of it and into clean clothes as soon as possible.

" Annie dear," Carson turned to the nurse standing discreetly to the side, "keep a close eye on our patient and if there is any change, anything at all, come get me straight away, Elizabeth you know where I am if you need me…..now if you'll excuse me…" Carson gave one further look at Sheppard's monitors then walked towards his office.

"Well, I should go talk with Radek about the results from the….uh…tests we were carrying out, Elizabeth…I…will….speak to you later and hopefully, when he decides to honour us with his presence, 'flyboy' there" he pointed at Sheppard's supine form, "will be able to tell us how he managed to find himself in trouble yet again." Rodney lifted his laptop from the table where he had abandoned it earlier and disappeared through the doors.

"I think I'll go get some food" Ronon yawned and stretched then headed for the door, "Teyla you coming?" Ronon waited, his eyebrow raised in question.

"No Ronon, you go, I believe I may stay here for a short while, if that would be alright?" Teyla looked over at Annie, who smiled and nodded her head, she had warmed to Teyla and the company would not go amiss. Ronon shrugged and turned away then taking a final look towards Sheppard, he left also.

"Teyla I'll be in my office, let me know if there is any change, I believe the report for this outing will make interesting reading!!!" and smiling, she left and Teyla once again found herself alone with Colonel Sheppard. She moved to the side of the bed and sat gently in the chair placed there for visitors. As she waited, she studied John's face and she relished the peace she saw projected there, such a contrast to the grimace of pain that had been his only expression during the long day now past. She reached out and touched his hand, feeling the strength of his pulse beneath her fingers, strong and regular…..so different to before.

Teyla's attention was caught by a slight tremble in his eyelids and she rose from the seat, looking closer in case she had been mistaken. She took his hand in hers and waited, then looked down as she felt his hand close around hers.

" Annie…I believe the colonel is waking….would you fetch Carson, I believe he wished to be informed of any change in his condition!". Teyla looked back to John's face as Annie left and she was stunned to see him looking straight back at her.

"John….?" Teyla waited as John slowly blinked his eyes and she could see that he was struggling to focus on her, "John…it is Teyla….can I get anything for you…are you in pain?

John felt as if he was trying to blink his eyes under water, they were watering and sticky and he couldn't seem to clear them, but the voice…..that he knew. He felt numb, his body felt wrong, disconnected from him. He tried to lift his arm off the bed, but his strength had disappeared, he was as weak as a kitten. There was a dull sensation emanating from his leg, not exactly a pain….more like a really bad ache….and then he suddenly remembered why he was here, why he hurt and why Teyla was standing beside his bed!

A cold sweat broke out as he remembered the events of the day….he remembered the walk through the trees and the noise that had startled him, he remembered walking into the glade, the metallic snap and the intense pressure on his leg. His memory started to get a bit fuzzy round about then….all he could remember from then on was pain, intense, agonizing pain…..and fear.

Teyla could see the conflict of emotions taking place, reflected in his face and she tried to reassure him as best she could.

"John, you are safe now…you are on Atlantis…..there is nothing to fear.."

"T-teyla…" his voice didn't sound right, his throat felt raw and misused, he swallowed to try to alleviate the dryness and ended up coughing. Teyla took the glass of water from the side table and held the straw for him to drink through.

"Thanks…", better, his voice sounded much better now "Infirmary…?", he looked up enquiringly at Teyla's face, then a thought struck him and his expression changed to one of fear, "Teyla…my leg……is it…..?" his hands stretched down the sheet as he struggled to touch the gauze covering his leg. Teyla grasped his hand before he managed to reach the bandages, she was sure that his wounded leg would not appreciate being touched. She placed his hand back beside him on the bed and tried to reassure him.

" John….you are in the infirmary…. your leg was badly hurt, do you remember? ...Carson is sure that it will heal well….do you need anything?"

" I…….don't remember much…I remember walking…….I-I.. remember a BEAR…..Teyla, was there a bear…I cannot have been that far gone…there WAS a bear wasn't there…..it was running towards me….I…I…..tried to shoot it…..I missed didn't I……then you ….Teyla, I remember… you…you saved my life…………."

"John…Ronon was the one who shot the creature…..I…my gun wouldn't fire."

"Teyla…you….protected me…..you….."

"Colonel….it's good to see you awake lad…" Carson bustled across the room and stopped at the bedside. Producing his ever present pen light he shone it in John's eyes and seemed pleased with the results. "Ok lad….how's the pain?".

John looked from Teyla's face to Carson and swallowing, shrugged minutely, "It's ok ….not too bad at the moment….Doc, what's the deal with my leg…..I…I…will I be ok to fly!" John's voice had an undertone of fear that he couldn't disguise. He was born to fly, it was one of the main reasons for him being here, well that and his gene, but his passion was flying and he couldn't imagine a life without it and as he stared up into Carson's face his whole future was flashing before his eyes.

"You're going to need a very intensive period of physiotherapy and it won't be easy for you but, I don't see that flying should be a problem, when your strength has returned…but that won't be for a wee while yet son. Right then…lets take a look at those dressings and then you can get some rest." Teyla stood aside to allow Carson room to examine the dressings on John's leg, which appeared to satisfy him as he gave a small nod and smiled to himself.

Carson excused himself, and calling Annie to follow walked towards his office explaining the next stage of treatment that the Colonel would need. Teyla watched Beckett leave and turned back to her friend, "John, you need your rest…I will return later, I am sure that the others will wish to see you also…." John looked up at her,

"You saved me Teyla, you placed yourself between me and that….beast, Ronon may have fired the shot that killed it, but you would have given up your life for me and….I will never forget that. Teyla felt her cheeks burn and she lent over the bed towards him, closing her eyes and touching his forehead briefly with hers.

"I am….honoured that you think of me in that way John….I….only did what anyone would have done in the circumstances."

"That's not strictly true," a smile touched John's lips…. "I don't think Rodney would agree with you on that one". Teyla gave him a stern look, then her face dissolved into a smile as she stood and turned to leave, when she turned back her face had been softened by the smile,

"Please rest John….it had been a…….difficult day"

As she walked towards the door, John couldn't help thinking that, to her people she would always be the leader, but to him she was ever the hero.

The End

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